Josh Greene, Lead Pastor of First Baptist Church Fairdale, is passionate about community involvement in the local church. In this post he outlines how his church gets involved with their local high school. While schools provide incredible potential for outreach and ministry, many of our churches fail to have a lasting or recognizable presence on campus. May Josh’s wisdom from experience challenge and excite our own ministries to get involved with our local schools.
Our church just wants to be involved.
Overall, we genuinely just become “fans” of their programs. We want them to win. We cheer for them. We support them.
I hope this helps. Seems so simple and basic. But we think it’s great!
This post originally appeared on Josh’s personal blog.
With the release of his new book, Aspire: Developing and Deploying Disciples in the Church for the Church, Matt Rogers, pastor of The Church at Cherrydale, wants to provide a tool for relational discipleship. Among other things, it provides a one-year plan that is ideal for one-on-one disciple-making. In the post below Rogers challenges us all tho question, while small groups are good, are they enough to make disciples? You can order your copy of Aspire today at Seed Publishing Group. Also, a 10% discount is available for orders of 25 copies or more.
Small Groups Are Good But They’re Not Enough
by Matt Rogers
I vividly remember my first church planter boot camp. I was young, naïve and filled with zeal for God’s church. The message presented at the training was clear—you are given the task of making disciples not simply growing the next great church. The bulls-eye for the success of the church, we were told, is to make disciples. This seemed clear enough to me.
The answer to the follow up question seemed equally straightforward in my mind. We were asked, “How will the church that you plant go about the task of disciple-making?”
“Small groups,” I said without a moment’s thought. It was like saying “Jesus” in a Sunday school class of six-year-olds. Of course that was the right answer. Our church would take people, put them in small groups and let the magic happen. Relationships would form, the gospel would be communicated and disciples would be built.
Five years later my answer would be more nuanced. Small groups are good but they are not enough. Small groups provide some wonderful gifts to God’s church. In our church, they’ve excelled at:
Certainly these are components of effective disciple-making, but they are insufficient in and of themselves. True disciple-making necessitates a one-on-one relationship with a growing Christ-follower over an extended period of time.
You simply cannot mass-produce disciples—even on a small group level.
Imagine that God saves your neighbor Joe whom you have been investing in for several years. Joe begins to attend the weekly gathering at your church and starts coming to the small group that meets in your home.
In the small group he meets new friends, discusses a Bible passage, begins to serve and may even begin to open up about areas of sin. However, the small group can’t disciple Joe sufficiently, because it is not designed to. Why?
The Power of One
A small group is not designed to do all the work of disciple-making. But a person in a small group can.
Ideally, every Christ-follower would strive to enter into intentional, long-term relationships with at least two other people for the purpose of disciple-making. They would meet together regularly, talk about the gospel and seek to apply it to their lives.
Does this mean that we throw out small groups? Certainly not. Let’s continue to run hard after small groups recognizing that they are a part of a much bigger process of disciple-making.
We need healthy week worship gatherings where the Word can be proclaimed through the preaching and singing of the Word, the prayers of the saints and the practice of baptism and the Lord’s supper.
We need thriving small groups where people can learn to love God’s church by building relationships with one another and living on mission together.
We need a culture of relational disciple-making that infuses vibrancy into the life of the church body because of the shared investment that all of God’s people have in fulfilling the Great Commission by making disciples.
Josh Greene, Lead Pastor of First Baptist Church Fairdale, gives helpful and practical advice for new pastors who take a position of leadership at an older church. This topic is one that includes many of us at B21 and many of our brothers in the ministry. We are confident Josh’s insight will prove helpful. Read, learn, and share these points of advice with other brothers who are in this often complicated position.
A few months back, I was interviewed about what advice I would give to a new younger pastor who is beginning to lead at an older established church. (I enjoyed this assignment because it deals with real life.)
They specifically asked me to give 5 steps that I would take. (For the record, this situation is what I went through in becoming the Pastor at FBC Fairdale. I have been on staff at this church since 2003, and I have been the Lead Pastor since 2009.) Here they are:
1. See John 13:16 – Servant! I determined from day 1 to make myself approachable. I wanted everyone to know I am here for them. Literally. I am not too strict, too harsh, too cool, too poor, too godly, too wealthy, too smart, too fancy, nothing. I want all people to feel good about approaching me about anything. Whether that be to ask for a favor, or help, or money, or prayer, or to make a suggestion or complaint. Focusing on being approachable sets the tone for good honest relationships that will last for a long time.
2. See 2 Timothy 3:16 – God’s Word! Establish right away that the Word of God is the authority. Not the preacher. (We aren’t Catholic. Or over-religious) God speaks and we listen. Thats it. Make sure everyone knows that. If you get mad over a Biblical issue, it cannot be mad at the preacher because the Bible says it. That foundational truth will solve so many headaches. No telling how many people have been shut-up or forced to stay silent because they knew they couldn’t argue with God.
3. See Acts 20:35 – Hard Work! I knew right away that people are impressed with work ethic. (Even the word “ethic” is a spiritual word, I bet you have never thought of that in that way before. haha.) So I am quick to take out the trash or mow the grass or dig ditches, etc. I am amazed that Paul makes this comment in this verse as his goodbye to Ephesus. So many ministers get a bad knock or reputation for being lazy, or playing golf, or not knowing how to do much else. Whether that is right or not doesn’t matter. The blue collar men are drawn to hard workers. Hard work pays off. Colossians 3:23
4. See Hebrews 13:17 – Shepherd! I determined right away that I would KNOW our people. The Spirit will not let me be fine with having sheep that I do not know on a personal level. So In my first year, I arranged to have a sit down meeting with everyone in the church. We devoted Tuesdays to this. Our church secretary would schedule me meetings with everybody in the church. One family, couple or individual at a time. We discussed salvation, church involvement, and gifts. It was awesome. You cannot disciple anyone at all, no one, if you do not know them on a personal level. Shepherd!
5. See Luke 10:2 – Prayer! I established right away that we would pray a lot. I set a goal of 2 hours a week of church prayer time. 30 minutes sunday mornings at 9am. 30 minutes on Wednesday nights. 20 minutes on Sunday nights. And lots of other smaller pieces in other parts. We turned Wednesday night’s Bible study into a prayer focus. We cannot do this work without prayer. True religion is Spiritual. The Spirit must do it. We know that. And we don’t at all want to try and make it happen on our own. That’s worthless! So we pray.
This post originally appeared on Josh’s personal blog.
Eric King, Missional Church Strategist for the International Mission Board, leads the discussion as key figures in the SBC talk about the future of the IMB. As they look for a successor to IMB president Tom Elliff, this time of transition affords an opportunity to step back and discuss issues like strategy, theological differences, funding, and cooperation within the larger conversation of what the IMB of tomorrow should look like.
B21 would like to thank the Cooperative Program for hosting such pertinent, timely, and engaging discussions at their convention booth. They have made all of their video sessions available for free online. Make sure you avail yourself of these great resources!
In preparation for the ERLC National Conference, “The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage,” the ERLC released this very pertinent and helpful video interview and blog post by Sam Allbery (@SamAllberry), associate pastor at St Mary’s Church in Maidenhead,UK and one of the speakers at the conference. In the below post and video Sam talks openly about his own struggles and offers valuable insight and wisdom as to how pastors and churches can engage and help Christians with same-sex attraction.
There are a number of things churches can do to help Christians with same-sex attraction (SSA):
1. MAKE IT EASY TO TALK ABOUT
Pastors as well as church members need to know that homosexuality is not just a political issue but a personal one, and that there will likely be some within their own church family for whom it is a painful struggle. When the issue comes up in the life of the church, it needs to be recognized that this is an issue Christians wrestle with too, and that the church needs to be ready and equipped to walk alongside such brothers and sisters.
Many Christians still speak about homosexuality in hurtful and pejorative ways. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard Christians (even some in positions of church leadership) use phrases like: “That’s so gay” to describe something they don’t like. Such comments are only going to make their Christian brothers and sisters struggling with SSA feel completely unable to open up. When I first began to share my own experiences with friends at church, I was struck by how many mature Christians felt they needed to apologize for comments they’d made in the past about homosexuality, which they now realized may have been hurtful.
A key to helping people feel safe about sharing issues of SSA is having a culture of openness about the struggles and weaknesses we experience in general in the Christian life. Christian pastor and writer Timothy Keller has said that churches should feel more like the waiting room for a doctor and less like a waiting room for a job interview. In the latter we all try to look as competent and impressive as we can. Weaknesses are buried and hidden. But in a doctor’s waiting room we assume that everyone there is sick and needs help. And this is much closer to the reality of what is going on in church.
By definition, Christians are weak. We depend on the grace and generosity of God. We are the “poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3). It is a mark of a healthy church that we can talk about these things, and so we need to do all we can to encourage a culture of being real about the hard things of the Christian life.
But there is a caution: having made it easy for someone to talk about their sexual struggles, we must not then make the mistake of always talking to them about it. They may need to be asked about how things are going from time to time, but to make this the main or only thing you talk about with them can be problematic. It may reinforce the false idea that this is who they really are, and it may actually overlook other issues that they may need to talk about more. Sexuality may not be their greatest battle.
2. HONOR SINGLENESS
Those for whom marriage is not a realistic prospect need to be affirmed in their calling to singleness. Our fellowships need to uphold and honor singleness as a gift and take care not unwittingly to denigrate it. Singles should not be thought or spoken of as loose ends that need tying up. Nor should we think that every single person is single because they’ve been too lazy to look for a marriage partner.
I remember meeting another pastor who, on finding out I was single, was insistent that I should be married by now and proceeded to outline immediate steps I needed to take to rectify this. He was very forthright and only backed down when I burst into tears and told him I was struggling with homosexuality. It is not an admission I should have needed to make. We need to respect that singleness is not necessarily a sign that someone is postponing growing up.
3. REMEMBER THAT CHURCH IS FAMILY
Paul repeatedly refers to the local church as the “God’s household” (1 Tim. 3:15). It is the family of God, and Christians are to be family to one another.
So Paul encourages Timothy to treat older men as fathers, “younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters” (1 Tim. 5:1-2). The church is to think of itself as immediate family. Nuclear families within the church need the input and involvement of the wider church family; they are not designed to be self-contained. Those that open up their family life to others find that it is a great two-way blessing.
Singles get to experience some of the joys of family life; children get to benefit from the influence of other older Christians; parents get to have the encouragement of others supporting them; and families as a whole get to learn something of what it means to serve Christ by being outward-looking as a family.
4. DEAL WITH BIBLICAL MODELS OF MASCULINITY AND FEMININITY, RATHER THAN CULTURAL STEREOTYPES
Battles with SSA can sometimes be related to a sense of not quite measuring up to expected norms of what a man or woman is meant to be like. So when the church reinforces superficial cultural stereotypes, the effect can be to worsen this sense of isolation and of not quite measuring up.
For example, to imply that men are supposed to be into sports or fixing their own car, or that women are supposed to enjoy craft or to suggest that they will want to “talk about everything”, is to deal in cultural rather than biblical ideas of how God has made us. It can actually end up overlooking many ways in which people are reflecting some of the biblical aspects of manhood and womanhood that culture overlooks.
5. PROVIDE GOOD PASTORAL SUPPORT
Pastoral care for those with SSA does not need to be structured, but it does need to be visible. Many churches now run support groups for members battling with SSA; others provide mentoring or prayer-partner schemes.
Those with SSA need to know that the church is ready to support and help them, and that it has people with a particular heart and insight to be involved in this ministry. There may be issues that need to be worked through, and passages from the Bible that need to be studied and applied with care and gentle determination. There may be good friendships that need to be cultivated and accountability put in place, and there will be the need for long-term community. These are all things the local church is best placed to provide.
It has been a few years now since I first started telling close Christian friends that I battle with homosexual feelings. It was a lengthy process and in some ways quite emotionally exhausting. But it was one of the best things I have ever done. The very act of sharing something so personal with someone else is a great trust, and in virtually every case it strengthened and deepened the friendship. Close friends have became even closer. I also found that people felt more able to open up to me about personal things in their own lives, on the basis that I had been so open with them. There have been some wonderful times of fellowship as a result.
It has now been several months since I shared about the issue of sexuality publicly with my church family. Again, it has been a great blessing to have done so. There has been a huge amount of support—people asking how they can help and encourage me in this issue, many saying that they are praying for me daily. Others have said how much it means to them that I would share something like this. It has also been a great encouragement to me that it does not seem to have defined how others see me. Aside from the expressions of love and support, business was back to normal very quickly.
This article was originally posted here.
Sam Allberry will be one of the speakers at the ERLC National Conference: “The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage.” The conference is designed to equip Christians to apply the gospel on these issues with convictional kindness in their communities, their families and their churches. This event will be held at the iconic Opryland Hotel on October 27-29, 2014. To learn more go here.